The unshakeable calm Of Bryce Young 

Ashlee Woods | @ashleemwoods, Sports Editor

It’s not easy to take the reins of a team that’s defending its national title, but Alabama quarterback Bryce Young makes it look easy. 

The sophomore from Pasadena, California, has wowed fans and analysts with his poise and confidence while under immense pressure, which comes from defensive linemen and the crowd rooting against him. 

Nothing rattles Young. 

Young has shown his ability to extend plays with his legs. Typically Young isn’t going to run for the first down. He uses his legs to dance around the pocket to avoid sacks and distribute the ball to his receivers. 

Take his third-and-3 conversion late in the fourth quarter against the Florida Gators on Sept. 18. Florida linebacker Mohamoud Diabate made his way into the backfield. Young sidestepped Diabate and found tight end Cameron Latu for the first down. 

Young’s calmness in the pocket with 250-pound defenders in his face is arguably his best trait. It’s something that has impressed head coach Nick Saban. 

“First of all, I think that he’s got a really good feel in the pocket, moving into [the] pocket and sort of moving away from the rush, stepping up when he needs to step up,” Saban said after the win over Mercer. “He’s very quick, very quick feet, quick release, he gets his feet back underneath them so that he’s throwing the ball on balance and accurately.”

This stems from Young’s basketball background. In sixth grade, Young started working with Danny Hernandez, who was his position coach at Cathedral High School. When Hernandez noticed how comfortable Young was at making awkward throws, he got creative with his practice drills. 

In basketball, one of the jobs a point guard has is to analyze the defense for any openings their team can take advantage of. Naturally, that idea transferred to how Young plays football. 

Hernandez had Young practice throws in an awkward position. It helped Young early in his career to keep his eyes downfield and extend plays. This decision proved to be instrumental in how Young became the quarterback he is today.

His father Craig Young’s persistence and awareness was critical to his development as a quarterback. 

Black quarterbacks are often viewed as better runners than passers. Their athletic ability to extend plays tends to overshadow the arm talent. It also puts these quarterbacks in a box for the rest of their careers. 

Craig Young knew this. Wanting better for his son and the young Black quarterbacks that will follow, he made sure his son developed his passing game. Early in his career, Young knew the importance of keeping his eyes up and getting the ball to his playmakers.  

For years, Young practiced those drills and learned how to be unselfish with the ball. Now, he is faking out defenders with his athleticism and picking apart the secondary with his arm. 

Evading a safety blitz is not the only pressure Young faces. He is the quarterback of the top-ranked team in the country. 

Young was primarily on clean-up duty his freshman year with the Crimson Tide. He was the backup to former quarterback Mac Jones in 2020. Jones helped Alabama reach a 13-0 record and its sixth national championship under Saban. 

Young saw some time on the field; he completed 13 of his 22 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown in nine games. Now, as the starter, Young must contend with teams rattling his confidence. He was aware of the off-field pressure he could face coming to Tuscaloosa 

“Saban sets that standard for us immediately in recruiting when we step in that building,” Young said during his first press conference of the season. “It’s not something I’ve been blindsided by. Honestly, I don’t think it’s something unique to me. Everyone in the building has those expectations.”

Florida was Young’s first test. It was the first time the top-ranked team visited Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in a decade, a face-off between two undefeated teams and the rematch of the 2020 SEC Championship. 

Young handled the noise, the frenzy and outside factors with poise. 

The Ole Miss Rebels are coming to Tuscaloosa on Saturday, Oct. 2. The Rebels have turned heads with their all-around dominance in their first three games of the season. Quarterback Matt Corral is a fellow Heisman hopeful. This is the first time a conference opponent is coming to Bryant-Denny Stadium this season. 

The hype around the upcoming game is palpable. Young and the Crimson Tide have their first true home test of the season. Young said maintaining his faith is important to him. 

“It really comes a lot from my faith,” Young said on Monday. “I feel like that’s really where I get my power from, and I feel that my job is to glorify God out on the field. I know that everything is written and I can kind of have trust in that.”

The Rebels are ready, but so is Young.